Hey, We Elected Them!

I love this city.  Since moving to Seattle in 1973, there are few days that don’t amaze me with its beauty.  Yeah, the traffic continues to worsen, but we’re working on that and everything should be fine in around 245 years.  Patience.

However, I lost some respect for our city leaders this week when I attended a public hearing about a proposed homeless camp at 28th & Market Street in Ballard.  While we don’t live in Ballard, our social life is centered on the many events that take place in that part of town and when and we have lots of friends there.  So, when Victoria suggested we attend this hearing, I was all for it.

As we walked up, there was a huge crowd outside the VFW hall, which, if this camp becomes reality, would border the homeless camp.

The parking lot next to the site was packed

The parking lot next to the site was packed

Now, before we go any further, let me just say that the homeless issue has become very much like politics.  You’re either on one side or the other.  Both sides feel that if you start talking and aren’t reflecting what I feel, then you’re a cold, heartless person or a bleeding-heart idiot.

My feeling is this–the homeless need help.  Not enabling, help to make their lives better.  Some ended up there through bad life choices or bad luck.  They are human beings.  They should get our help.

The rest (and what often seems to be the majority) of them have substance abuse or mental issues and will not get better with a couple of bucks or a tent.  But there’s a sincere if not misguided group of people who feel if we cater to those sleeping on the streets, if we wait on them hand and foot, if we don’t expect them to change but accommodate their lifestyle, then we are doing God’s work. And, of course, it comes back to the point where if you disagree with that, you’re ignorant, afraid, or just aren’t of a higher intelligence.

That’s exactly what happened at the hearing last Monday night.  But let me give you the background of how we got there.

The city of Seattle has decided that a temporary solution to homelessness is to give them a chunk of city land and tents.   Then it proves to the world that Seattle cares.  Just a few of the cracks in the logic of that theory?

There are up to 3,000 homeless in Seattle.  This camp would house 50, as soon as September and for up to two years in a row. Then relocate for a year, followed by up to another two-year engagement.

So, of Seattle’s 3,000 homeless residents, which 50 are going to be lucky enough to get a spot in this little village? Is it some of the existing homeless in Ballard, or a fresh crop to add to the numbers?

Oh, did I mention that the land parcel being considered–owned by Seattle City Light–needs toxic waste cleanup, to the tune of $145,000?  Oh and because City Light owns it, the city would pay to rent the land.

And there was a tree there that mysteriously was cut down, despite an existing city ordinance that supposedly protects healthy trees. The councilman was under the impression that it was an unhealthy tree. But he probably wasn’t counting on that city arborist stepping up to the microphone and saying he felt the tree was healthy and there was no reason to have cut it down.

Unless, maybe, you’re planning to railroad through this plan to turn the lot into a tent city?

Mayor Murray apparently assembled a 19-person panel to select the possible sites for more tent cities, starting with 140 or so and whittling them down to 3 finalists and 4 alternate sites.

You have to wonder how 28th and Market Street was chosen as a ‘preferred’ site? Must be because of the families in the units on the hill above, who would be lucky enough to look down on it every day. Or perhaps the V.F.W. Hall whose parking lot bumps up against the lot. They have major concerns that hall rental income would be greatly reduce when potential renters realize their wedding or reunion guests will have to park right next to a homeless camp.

And did we mention how this site has a liquor store, a convenience store full of high-octane beer and wine and a marijuana store all a block or two away?

While the mayor and the council were invited to this gathering to explain their thinking, only Council member Mike O’Brien was brave enough to show up. Kudos to him. However, it’s probably because he lost a series of coin tosses and was chosen as the council representative to spout the city thinking: People act like this when they’re full of fear (we weren’t) or don’t understand what’s best for the homeless. (Oh, tell us, oh wise and all-knowing ones. We are but ignorant common citizens who cannot think of such clever use of vacant lots).

Dori Monson took on this topic the other day and asked a good question. Since churches have hosted homeless tent villages for years because they’re on private property, why don’t the council members including O’Brien, open up their front and back yards and allow homeless to camp there? In fact, here’s a question—Mr. O’Brien, how close is the nearest homeless tent village to your home? In Ballard?

The point was also made that the homeless have almost become a protected species. Very few are ever arrested for trespassing or public intoxication. The homeless advocates live in a world where people on the street are our fault. Again, I’m very in favor of doing things that will help them get better, recover from their addictions, find their way back. However, the majority of current steps are simply to perpetuate their lifestyle, not remedy it. Add to that, it seems as though word is spreading—come to Seattle and we’ll take care of you!

Instead of thinking that being homeless is unacceptable, it has become a lifestyle.

Let’s take them off the streets for a moment and make them a member of your family. So, Cousin Jake has developed a heroin problem and hasn’t had a job in years. So, the solution is to give him that extra bedroom, bring him food and let him live in your house with your wife and kids? You wouldn’t do that for a family member. So, why would you expect a community to welcome homeless camps with drug deals and God knows what else is going on in there?

Advocates who portray these tent cities as a structured second chance are kidding themselves.

It’s as if these people grew up thinking these people are the lovable hobos like Red Skelton portrayed. Again, there are serious, real hard-luck cases out there that deserve our help. But if Seattle is already spending $20-million a year on homeless issues and things are getting worse, not better, you might think our elected officials might consider a different approach to the problem.

I’ve spoken with several police officers who worked in a community that housed such a tent city. The drug deals, some fights, sex under the local school bleachers….the problems are real, not exceptions.

They need counseling, intervention, therapy AND housing. We, as a society, need to help, not enable. We need to be driven by concern, not political grand-standing and guilt.

For those who are interested, the vice-Mayor of Seattle is going to be at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard next Wednesday night for one more hearing on the topic. It starts at 6:30pm. The hall holds 500 people and I’m expecting it to be packed, so if you’re going, get there early.!

I’m also expecting everything said to fall on deaf ears. Through the back doors, I’ve heard this is a done deal. The camp will go in, regardless of who says what, because they know better.

And remember, we elected them.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

 

WHEN DID GROWING UP BECOME OPTIONAL?

growup

I look around at the world today and wonder, “When did people stop growing up?”

Maybe when times were tougher, when you had to struggle to just stay alive, people were forced into adulthood and adult behavior.  It wasn’t optional.

I know I can look back on my childhood and recall things that today, I can’t believe I did.  But eventually, you realize there are consequences for your actions.  That if you do this, THAT will probably happen.

As a 6-year-old, I went up to my cousin’s cabin at Big Bear Lake and, in one weekend, ate salmon eggs because I was hungry and started a forest fire.  Oh, the fire fighters showed up almost immediately and it was accidental.  It wasn’t like we were doing it for kicks.  Me and my 7-year-old cousin even built it in a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.

There was the time where we were playing hide ‘n seek at Immanuel Lutheran School in Redondo Beach.  Laurel Schearer was “It”, she saw me and we raced back to the flag pole that was home base.  As she came close to saying, “1-2-3 on Tim” I pushed her in the back.  She fell face-first into the pole and chipped her front tooth.  Why did I do that?  I seriously don’t know, but in the mind of third grader playing hide ‘n seek, it seemed like a reasonable action.

Oh, and while a freshman in high school, I threw a girls’ lunch out the bus window and lost my bus riding privileges for a week.

I’m sure there are lots of other indiscretions  but, over time, they minimize so that they’re reduced to buying a stock that plummets the next day or eating that leftover you knew was probably bad, but you hated to just throw it away.

Now, when I see a Minnesota dentist that, from the outside, seemed like a responsible citizen…but that goes out and kills exotic animals for “sport”…or a professional football quarterback who destroys a cell phone so that we won’t really know what really happened…I’m at a loss.  It’s common for people to think they’re above the law, that it applies to everyone else but them. We see that every day with bicyclists that ignore traffic signals, jaywalkers, people talking on the phones while driving and holding them in their hands, etc.  But when it comes to common decency, how do you evolve to the point where that gets thrown out the window? (like a sack lunch)

I’m not claiming I’m perfect, by any means.  I gave you just a few examples above of some of my failings, but I’m saving the bulk of them for my eventual Encyclopedia of Screw-Ups, Volumes 1-26.   It used to be that “they” were the exception.  Nowadays, they seem to be becoming the rule.  Where the guy who walks into a theater and starts shooting isn’t a punk kid from an out-of-control family, but instead, is a 59-year-0ld drifter that can appear normal enough to go to a local gun store and stock up.

I wonder if this is just a generational thing.  That people in the early 1900s felt the world was falling apart when World War I broke out, or how my parents felt when World War II was underway.  Now, we don’t do official World Wars,  we fight mini-wars here and there and at home.

This wasn’t meant to turn into a rant on any one subject. But I have to say, for all the good there is in the world, it just seems like the bad is on the increase.  Or, maybe that’s just the way it’s always been and always will be.

Or, perhaps, even at my advanced years, I need to grow up just a little bit more.

Tim Hunter

The Gift

Over a year of planning later, the big weekend had arrived and it was time for my step-son Nick and his fiancé Samantha (“Sam”) to get married.  The rehearsal dinner was awesome. On wedding day, the weather was a tad hot, but nothing could ruin this beautiful celebration held at the DeLille Winery in Woodinville.

The following day, Nick & Sam tore into their wedding presents in front of a small gathering of close family. All went as expected until this one gift.  We’ll continue telling the story after this video.

Recently, while clearing out our downstairs to make way for some plumbing work, I came across a “Photo Carousel.” A wedding gift we had received when we were married almost 8 years ago.  It was a cool piece, but there wasn’t really a place for it in the house.  So, we thought we’d just hang on to it.

When I saw it, I immediately thought how funny it would be to give it to Nick & Sam, but to mess with them a little and say it was from someone named “Carl & Bonnie.”  So, I wrapped it up, bought a card and signed it using a couple of names I was sure wasn’t on their wedding list.

Being a very organized bride, the night before the honeymoon, we got a phone call from the couple trying to figure out who Carl & Bonnie were.  So they wouldn’t waste any of their honeymoon time dwelling on it, I called and did the reveal.

Yeah, I’m a prankster. This is news?

So, once again, congratulations Nick & Sam, on taking the big step.

From all of us.  Including Carl & Bonnie.

Carl & Bonnie, excited they didn't  have to buy a wedding present

Carl & Bonnie, excited they didn’t
have to buy a wedding present

Tim Hunter

Here It Comes Again

Dscf0004

I’m writing on this topic as a way to light a fire under me to make a particular something happen.

Very soon, I’m going to begin a weekly podcast.

Oh, I’ve done it before. It was in 2006. I was in my post-radio reinvention, working at an advertising agency, honing some new skills, but missing those days of broadcasting. It’s really hard to explain how an industry that can toss you away without a care can be so addictive. Maybe it’s like the bronco rider, who just wants to see how long he can stay on. I managed to ride 30 years and only get bucked off twice, ending up in a better position each time.

But I’ve seen so many broadcasting brothers and sisters kicked around by the biz. I’ve told some of them I feel lucky that I was able to be a part of my generation’s “Golden Age” of radio in Seattle. There was inventiveness, competition, fresh ideas, big stunts—all things missing from today’s watered-down version of that medium. Or, is it a large? But, I digress…

I was part of the Larry Nelson break-out era at KOMO, when we went from a sleepy Middle-of-the-Road format to a little-more-awake Full Service format. Then, I went over to KLSY and spent the next 19 years of my broadcasting career in their 3 buildings. We started in the Main Place in downtown Bellevue…wandered over to the building next to the Bellevue School District, just about The Butcher…and ended up in the current facilities in Factoria.

The “competition” was Ichabod, Bob Rivers, Charlie & Ty, The I-Guys, Ryan & Ryan, Kent & Alan and lots more that escape my immediate memory.  There was some great radio in town.

When the Murdock, Hunter and Alice thing blew up in 2003, I snuck into The Wolf, doing weekends and fill-in for just under a year, which gave me the country music experience and to meet Fitz, Possom, Woj and Wingnut. Sure, I was able to take part in some fun events, occasionally hearing from a former listener…but talking over intro’s just wasn’t the same as being part of a morning show. So, I let go.

After a couple of years of writing and working my way into an advertising agency, I decided to launch a podcast. Hey, why not? So, in late 2006, I started putting together these various-length montages of bits from my KQOT, KMWX, KOMO and KLSY years, plus some new things I put together.

Then I met a girl. And my priorities shifted.

Almost 9 years after the initial episodes, I’ve decided it’s time to get back into it. I still have that radio itch, but the instability of the business has caused it to lose its appeal. I used to think, “Oh, podcasts are for raging ego’s who just need to hear themselves talk” and that may be true.  But I believe the formula I’ve put together acts like a time capsule, allowing me to share & preserve some of the fun from my radio past.

So, if you’d like to explore the first 11 podcasts, you’ll find them here on my SoundCloud page. I’ll do my best to keep them entertaining and surprise you with an occasional guest or two. It’s been a busy life lately, but I hope to get this back into a fun routine.  Soon.

Wish me luck and thanks for the read.

Tim Hunter

Later Than The Late

mime funeral

Earlier this month, we received an announcement in the mail.  The man who had paid for my step-daughter’s education at Seattle University and her first year at Bastyr University, had died.

He was a well-to-do eastside businessman, who decided to reinvest some of his money into helping people make more of their lives.  Somehow, he became aware of Kjersti’s promise and so, he covered her SU tuition.  It was a very generous and noble thing to do.

So, when the announcement came from his widow and we learned of a memorial service at the Bear Creek Country Club on April 18th, my wife felt a strong calling to attend that service.  I would go along for support.  We read in the program sent to us that Tim Eyman was going to be the main speaker.  By the sounds of it, it was going to be quite the gathering of the who’s who of area conservatives.

The morning came, Kjersti was unable to attend because of teaching a class, but Victoria and I headed out to Woodinville.  We were running behind, so I picked up the pace as best I could.  We still arrived there a few minutes after noon, hopped out of the car and dashed up towards the clubhouse.

Nothing.  No signs of where the memorial was being held.  In the main dining hall, staff was setting up for a wedding reception.  The head of catering was busy and said that he would get to us in a few minutes, which went even longer.  It was then I said, “I’ll run out to the car and re-read the program.”

I got to the car, read the date and location carefully again.  Yep, April 18th.  Bear Creek Country Club, check.  Oh, wait.  The important detail we had failed to notice on the program—April 18th, 2014.

Yes, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, his widow had sent the funeral notice to us.  Probably taking care of loose ends, thinking Victoria and Kjersti would want to see it and most likely wondering why they hadn’t been there a year ago.

For the record, we were there–exactly one year after the service.

As for being late to events, I now have a new personal best and a feeling that record might just stand for a while.

Tim Hunter

Anybody Seen My Old Friend Jon

I only hung out with Jon Lemler for three or four years.

Actually, I’ve known Jon a total of 40+ years. But the time we spent together at Torrance High School amounted to no more than a max of three years. Back in those days, you went to elementary school, then high school. Grades 1-8 and then off to grades 9-12. I had heard the terms “middle school” and “junior high”, but they didn’t apply to my world.

With that big of a jolt, 9th grade for me was mostly spent getting used to this whole new existence. After all, I had only been in public schools two years, after attending a Lutheran school my first six grades. Being a new kid means getting picked on, laughed at and even the occasional threat of being beaten up. Ironically, it was my sense of humor that saved me several times and eventually, the bullies came to like me. I discovered that comedy was a great way to win people over.

With something like 5 elementary schools all contributing to Torrance High School, there were a lot of new faces and personalities. Somewhere along the way I met this white kid wearing an Afro-style haircut named Jon Lemler. If I remember it right, I became good friends with a couple of guys who attended the same elementary school as Jon, so  eventually we all started hanging out together.

I don’t think Jon was a jock or played music. He may have been in choir or the chess club, I just don’t know. All I remember is him being a little quirky, sorta funny and that he had mastered a talent of which I was highly envious—he could play music with his hands.

Now that we’re over 40 years removed from those high school days, actual memories are pretty limited. But one that almost everyone who knew Jon will likely remember is that evening at “Senior Talent Night.” Being a class president, I thought it would be fun to have a talent show and so, Jon took the stage and tore the house down with his version of “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his hands.

That skill came up every five or ten years when we managed to gather again for a class reunion. I have to say that Jon and I probably became better friends after high school than during.

Eventually, Jon took those magic hands and wandered into Chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine. Every reunion, while the rest of us continued our outward expansion, Jon continued looking pretty good. Down right healthy.

So, when another classmate started an email this week with the words, “I have some sad news to pass along”, Jon’s name was the last one I expected to see.   It seems he was attending a convention in Las Vegas earlier this month, when he suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack, at age 60.

I know Jon meant a lot to so many people—his family, his patients, his classmates. But he also played a big part in the life of my wife, Victoria, who felt compelled to write down her thoughts earlier today:

To The Friends & Family of Dr. Jonathan Lemler:

I met Dr. Lemler at a Torrance High School reunion as he was a classmate of my husband, Tim Hunter.  I believe this was the summer of 2008.  We began talking about our lives and the subject of me having been diagnosed with a kidney disease came up in our conversation. On one hand he was not very optimistic for me, but the more he thought about it, and he thought about it after the reunion as well, he emailed my husband and suggested a treatment for my liver, mushroom in origin, that would help my liver so it could support my kidneys. Up until this time my stats were not moving much in the positive direction. Once I started this treatment the numbers began to improve.  With a combination of this treatment, my naturopath and nephrologist, my kidneys slowly edged toward remission.  By 2011, my numbers were normal again. I will never forgot how much he cared, how hard he worked to help save my life because in fact, that is what he did.

He will be missed and I am extremely grateful to have known him.

Victoria Hunter

Seattle, WA

What more can I say other than I wish to God I could have had one more chance to say thanks for all you did, for Victoria and myself. God’s peace.

And for those who didn’t see it earlier on Facebook, here’s a clip of Jon from our 20-year reunion.

Too soon, man. Too soon.

Tim Hunter

Yes, It’s Hot in February

Here we go!

Here we go!

I’ll be honest. When I heard the news stories talking about this being “a seller’s market”, I was thinking when it came to my involvement that would mean a “Peter Sellers market.”

After all, when I bought my Bothell home back in 2006, I was watching house prices escalate at a phenomenal rate. Part of my inspiration to buy was the feeling that if I didn’t buy now, it wouldn’t be long until I wouldn’t be able to afford a house in Seattle.

So, when my real estate dude Bruce Fulton found this little 3-bedroom home backed up against a greenbelt in Bothell, I made a run at it. And, to make sure we got it, I gave them an offer $3,000 over the asking price of $367,000.

It was right after the ink dried on that contract that the signal was given for the economy to crash and the housing industry to bust unlike it had done in the last 100 years.

But, no worries. I was in this for the long haul.  Eventually house values would come back up.  I would just sit on the back deck, listen to the birds chirping, watch the rabbits dash through the yard and just take it easy.

Then I met a girl, fell in love, and we decided that little home wasn’t big enough for my new family configuration, so we bought the closer-to-Seattle home where we now live. I turned the Bothell residence into a rental. I only enjoyed living there for a year.

Luck was on my side, as I managed to get two great renters over the past 8 years. When the latest renter informed me she was no longer interested in buying the home and was moving south, it was time to make a run at selling it.

As poorly timed as the purchase was, the selling apparently was the complete opposite. Bruce said we should have no problem getting $369,000 for it. That was much welcomed news, especially since Zillow had two “values” posted for the home, the highest only $323,000. (just this week, there was an online news story about Zillow and their unreasonably lower values)

To make sure that it sold as soon as possible, I pulled out all the stops. Tweaked the inside to perfection with new carpeting and touched-up the painting. Put in a gravel path on the side yard, re-stained the deck on the two dry days in January. I had already put on a new roof this past year, repaired the garage door, replaced the front porch. Around $4,000 of freshening up later and the house was ready.

Oh wait—the smart money suggested “staging” the house. You’d think that wide-open rooms would look big, but having the right furniture in them makes all the difference and helps buyers with limited imaginations see how the house could look.

Now THAT'S staged!

Now THAT’S staged!

 

Another $1,700. (estimates were as high as $2500)  OK, now we’re ready.

Day 1:  On Thursday, the home’s first day on the market, one of the first people in the house made an offer–at full price, but they wanted me to cover the $5K in closing costs. With an open house scheduled for Sunday, we decided to wait and see what happened.

Smart move.

Day 4:  30 couples came through Sunday afternoon, between 1-4pm. At the end of the day, there were 3 offers on the table, two above asking price. We looked at each of the buyers and when all was said and done, I was signing documents Sunday night at 8 for a $378,000 real estate deal. Yep–$9,000 over asking price.

It’s been a long road and I still won’t recover what I put in, but the journey is almost over. There’s a couple that is going to get a great house they’ll enjoy for years to come and that part of my life is now about to close.

As much as I enjoyed Peter Sellers, I’m glad it has become a good old-fashioned seller’s market. If you’ve even thought about selling in the near future, current market conditions and the low interest rates pretty much say, “Do it now!”

Tim Hunter